Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Defining My Life

I've mentioned before that I don't really know where I'm at in life right now. But there are a few things that are defining me and my season right now.

One- This song. It's called Airplanes by B.O.B. and Hayley Williams from Paramore. There is something about the chorus that I can't get enough of. The chorus talks about hope and my spirit completely resonates with that message. Its like this chorus has found a way to awaken me in a way I didn't know I need to be awakened. Each time I get in the car I scan every station looking for it.

     Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? I could really use a wish right now.


Two- Twilight. I've mentioned it before, but these are the best books I've ever read. I love how engaging they are. The stories pull you in and refuse to let you leave. The characters swirl in your head and find ways to settle inside of you. I feel like I understand love on a whole new level, as well as emotions and the art of story-telling.

Three- Writing. I've never been more compelled to write in my life. I love to write, but have always had a limited imagination. Reading Twilight made me want to just pick up a pen and start writing anything that comes to me. I won't learn and grow as I writer if I never start. I want to write fiction, but find ways to communicate truths about who we are and what love is all about.

Four- Figuring out what kind of job would make me come alive, but also challenge me to grow. There are so many things I want to do and so many dreams that I have, it's hard to put them all together in a perfectly wrapped package that I can tangibly pursue. So right now I'm exploring. Spending time with friends. Reading books. Going on walks. Trying to figure out what kinds of things stir me up and what kinds of things tie me down. Some days I love one thing then the next day I want something totally different. So I'm in a process of discovery right now. And I think that's ok and good. We all need seasons like this.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Thorn in My Side

Everyone has one. Something that irritates them that won't go away. Something that continues to thrive despite a ferocious hatred. Something you wish just didn't exist. That follows you everywhere you go. That you know in your heart you'd be better off without. And to make matters worse, its something that doesn't seem to bother anyone else. In fact, your friends like this thorn. They're glad it's there. It keeps them going and helps them feel alive. But to you, it's a burden you don't want to carry. The gum stuck to your shoe. That you want to bury deep within the earth in hopes that it will never resurface.

What is that burden to me? That thorn that every morning I wish I could ignore?

Exercise. Yep, good old fashioned jogging, weight-lifting, ab crunching exercise. That keeps you from heart attacks and obesity, and makes you skinny and toned. I. loathe. exercise.

So let me be honest: I don't like to breathe hard. I don't like to sweat. My legs hurt when I run and I always feel dehydrated. If warm blankets and kittens are my love languages, exercise is my hate language.

That sounds harsh, and maybe I don't mean to sound as harsh as I'm sounding. But it's true, I wish I could be skinny, toned, healthy, AND fight heart attacks and obesity WITHOUT the dreaded treadmill and sweat.

HOWEVER, and there is a second part to this, I've learned that there are several things that make me want to exercise. Good thing I'm not totally hopeless right? Right. I know you were worried we weren't getting anywhere productive with this.

First things first: exercise clothes. I love to shop, and if I have the right outfit that makes me not look as huge as I feel, then I'll want to wear it out and about with all the other sporty, trim girls.  I want to exercise if I feel like I look somewhat stylish and coordinated.

Second thing that makes me want to exercise: Friends. In my previous post I mentioned wanting to work out only if I can shamelessly guilt friends into doing it with me. Recently I've been working out with some GREAT great friends, and that makes me feel socially connected whilst sweating and breathing hard. So its really a win-win. I don't think about the workout, but I actually do the workout, and I get closer to my friends. Perfect for my inner social butterfly.

Although I'd rather get skinny by watching a Bachelorette marathon and drinking a pina colada, I am being honest when I say that I tend to make healthier life choices when I work out regularly. I buy better groceries, manage my time more, stay hydrated, and just plain feel better. So despite my lack of desire for working out, I realize the variety of lifetime benefits it allows.

So in conclusion, the thorn in my side is still a thorn in my side (who am I kidding, this feeling doesn't change overnight). But I'm actually exercising now each week and that's a HUGE step in the right direction. So maybe the thorn isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Confessions

Confessions about my life that I might be too embarrassed to tell you in person:

Confession #1. I'm lazy. I could sit on the couch for hours at a time with laundry everywhere, work undone, toenail polish chipping, and not even care. As long as I have a book, my computer, MTV and a snack, I'm set.

Confession #2. I hate working out. And I only do it when friends are doing it so I can shamelessly guilt them into talking to me. I would do anything for friends. I want to be skinnier, but then again...I'm lazy.

Confession #3.  I've read the Twilight books more in the last month than I've read the Bible.

Confession #4. I love Twilight so much that I bought Twilight plates and napkins for my 25th birthday party.

Confession #5. I have a hard time being around people that are making bad life decisions. People that aren't living up to their potential and are willingly ignoring it frustrate me. Some people don't realize they're meant for more.

Confession #6. I'm afraid that I might love my cat more than I might love my future children. And yes I'm being serious.

Confession #7. I hated my hair on my wedding day.

Confession #8. I LOVE McDonalds cheeseburgers. And fries. And Coke. Go ahead, judge me.

Confession #9. My dream job would involve novel reading, lots of people, naps, kittens and snacks.

Confession #10. I've spent the last hour and a half watching interviews with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, aka Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Your Kingdom Come...NOW.

One of the songs that I've been playing on repeat since I've been home from the Middle East is the song "Your Kingdom Come" by Michael Larson. This song only has two lines that repeat for 4 minutes... "Your Kingdom come Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

At first glance those words are simple.

The words "Your Kingdom come" are spoken in almost every church in America, and so few of us really understand what they mean. And even though some declare it while praying the Lord's Prayer, they don't actually want to see that happen.  It just sounds catchy and is part of a prayer that everyone seems to have memorized at some point while growing up, but for some reason it hasn't reached our core yet. It hasn't gone past the words and into our hearts and then overflowed into our lifestyle.

When I heard this song first in the Middle East, it practically took my breath away. I was in a living room with 40 other believers from every nation you can imagine: Congo, South Africa, Canada, India, England, Syria, etc. And these believers didn't just know this song with their minds. It had already sunk deep into their souls and I could tell by listening that it was their greatest heart cry. That the Kingdom would manifest itself in a tangible way in ****.  They lived a lifestyle there of revival. They saw miracles DAILY. They weren't intimidated by the Muslim nature of the country because they knew the love of God could touch anyone.

Listening to them sing this song and make declarations over their country and what they wanted to see happen in the people there...I started to see how real this body of believers was. How hungry they were. How they yearned for only the Kingdom and God's love, nothing else. I've never seen such hunger before. I had watched them live out this lifestyle of revival day after day, but it was this song that really displayed the insatiable thirst they had for the Living God. They knew that the Kingdom of God was at hand. They knew that God wanted to show His love to His people, and so my friends declared with relentless passion that the Kingdom of God would be tangibly displayed in the Middle East. That God would make Himself known in the hearts of His people. That He'd show up in dreams and visions and through words of knowledge and prophecy. That they would know who to talk to and when, in order to intersect the work God had already begun in someone's life.

These believers were unstoppable. And they weren't letting up.

So this song, and what this song stirred up in me and in those around me- has changed my life. After encountering God through this lens, I will never and can never be the same. God is just too good. So open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where am I?

So right now, I feel lost. I came back from the Middle East having had some incredible experiences. The problem is, what do I do with those experiences? I'm still me, but some things have shifted.

The deep worship, the challenging outreaches, the cool testimonies, the vibrant culture, the dreams that were stirred up...

A lot happened while I was over there and I'm trying to piece together and make sense of why certain things happened and why specific dreams were stirred. I don't exactly have a 'piece together' plan so I'm hoping things connect themselves on their own.

Once I have anything figured out, I'll let you know.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bad Theology

There are tons of Christian songs today that are sung and re-sung, used in weddings and church services, blared loudly on the radio or worshiped to at youth camps. There have been thousands of songs written about God and His love that we could play a different one every few minutes and be able to fill up years of time.

The problem with Christian music is that sometimes it is just bad theology. Sometimes it speaks death and not life. Sometimes the Scriptures used are taken out of context to fit an artist's feeling or state of mind. Sometimes Christian music can do more harm than good, but since its all under the name of "God" then it must be good, right?

One of my favorite exercises we did in school of ministry was listening to music and discerning things about the music as it played. The point was to ignore the words, but to pray into and see what the Spirit was revealing through some of the songs. What feelings did the melodies invoke? Were you left with a positive feeling or a negative feeling? As the songs played, we were told to write down the things we felt about the songs.

I was excited because the first song was by a well known Christian artist. It was a song I had grown up singing and knew all the words to. The piano started, then the drums, then came the electric guitar...building into a forceful crescendo and gracefully easing off as the lyrics settled in around me. The music continued to play as I focused on what my heart felt. I was expecting to feel intimacy with the Father, joy, love, exhilaration. But instead I started to feel sad. I started to feel guilty about random things throughout my life. Painful memories were brought up that I never wanted to think about again. Before I realized it, I had scribbled down words and phrases like "distance, lack of intimacy, guilt, shame, frustration." Although the lyrics of the song are good, the song itself opened up so many doors for me that weren't good. By the end of the song, I couldn't understand why the song was so popular. But like I said, the point of the exercise was to learn to discern music- the way it was created, the heart that birthed it, the people who collaborated to make it beautiful and marketable, the idea behind it. Essentially, see beyond the music and see the heart. Whats healthy for someone else might not be healthy for you.

The second song was one I didn't know. It sounded like dueling banjos with some Nickelcreek harmonies mixed in. This song made my spirit come alive. I got excited. I felt like I was in a whirlwind romance spinning around and around. I felt feelings of euphoria. I could feel the harmonies. The song made me want to put my arm around someone, pick flowers, or lay in the sun.

How ironic is it that two totally different songs can make you feel completely different? I tell this story to explain that what looks good on the outside, might not actually be all good. And what looks rough on the outside, might actually be something that comes from the very heart of God.

One song that has become popular is the song "Blessed Be Your Name." This song never sat well with me, and for a long time I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized that the line that says "You give and take away" shouldn't be in the song. That line is very much Scriptural, but it is Job's words to God...for which he was later rebuked for. God did not endorse those words. Scripture is very clear that "His gifts and His call are irrevocable." Romans 11:29  God does not steal or take away from His children what He has already given them. We like to say that satan has to come and ask God to take things away, but satan is no longer allowed in God's presence. Whatever authority the enemy has in your life, he has it because you have given it to him.

So in conclusion- after my rampant ramblings...not all music speaks life or identity. So its important to know what we're filling our mind and our hearts with throughout the day. Thats why I love Rick Pino and Jake Hamilton- both are guys that write songs in such a way that when you sing them to yourself later on, you are declaring who you are. "I am royalty. I have destiny. I have been set free. I'm going to change history." You speak life. And life's important.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Birthdays!

Yesterday Patrick and I celebrated our 25th birthdays. We are 6 days apart so each year we try to have a huge party. I always get anxious before parties because I want LOTS of people to come and I want people to have a good time. But I'm always nervous that no one will care and no one will come.

I've never really enjoyed my birthday before, but this year was so different. I don't know if I cared less or my friends cared more, but I had the BEST birthday I've ever had. The gifts I got were perfect and amazing, and I felt like the people that gave them knew me so well. We had 40-50 people over to our apartment, went through 24+ cokes, two bottles of margarita mix and tequila, 30+ beers, a big pitcher of sangria, 3 kinds of salsa, strawberry shortcake, chex, boxes or oreos, pretzels, brownies, fondue, cookies, fruit snacks, pizza, and vegetables. It was glorious.

I had friends come that originally said they couldn't make it, so those were great surprises. My old roommate Melanie came into town from Dallas, and all my other roommates came down from Athens. The festivities started at 7 and the last people didn't leave til 2am. And if you know me, my favorite part of a party is when the crowd starts to die down and the last of the guests are sitting on the couch hashing out the nights' events and catching up on life. Thats when I feel most connected to friends...because usually the ones that stay are the ones that really care and want to see things through to the very end.  Those that have stayed are in no rush to go anywhere and are always willing to finish off whatever alcohols still left in the fridge. The best conversations happen at the end of the night.

So thank you sweet friends for making our birthday so fun and memorable! There are 4 people in this photo who were not in attendance- Lauren and Jacquelyn are in California, Evie is in China, and Sarah is in Peru.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Focused Obsession



Although lame, I feel the need to admit that I'm completely obsessed with Twilight. Yes the teeny-bopper vampire romance with Edward Cullen has captured my heart. I read the first two books while in the Middle East, then promptly read the third when I got home. I'm holding off on the fourth book because I think Patrick wants his wife back.

Let's discuss why I am enamored by these stories.

First of all - Stephenie Meyer is a fabulous writer. She gives just enough description, but not so much that you feel the need to skip pages. She finds ways to touch on every emotion I've ever felt, and continually engages me on so many levels. I love the character descriptions, suspense, emotional relate-ability, and plot twists.

Secondly - Bella Swan. I love how real she is. And Kristen Stewart was cast perfectly for the role. Kristen is honest, quirky, a little awkward, sensitive and sincere. I feel like I had permission to be more of myself after I read these stories.

Thirdly - Edward Cullen. Stephenie has a unique ability to make Edward seem so real. Every girl remembers the feelings she had with the first guy she loved, and the words that Edward says are always so perfect and captivating. With your first love, you just want to sit and listen to any word that comes out of their mouth. The words probably weren't perfect or healthy, but at the time you feel the weight of each and every one.  And they continue to linger in your mind and weigh down your heart with sentiment and exhilaration for months to come.

With that said...I LOVE TWILIGHT. And will probably read the saga every six months.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Unraveling In a Humorous Way


Honestly, I believe it'll take months before I tell all the stories and happenings from the Middle East. So I'm just going to have to start somewhere to help myself process a little bit.

Interesting facts about places we went and things we saw/did:

- The first four days we were there, we were in a sand storm. Its like a rain storm in that you can't see the sun, and when its really bad you can't see the cars in front of you. People use their headlights (although still  driving like maniacs) and sometimes you can see headlights but not cars.

- In the first country we visited, it didn't get below 96 degrees. It was 98 degrees F when we landed at 11:30 PM and the temperatures continued to climb throughout our time there. Yikes.

- Many Arab places don't use toilet paper...they have a water sprayer to wash yourself with after you go to the bathroom. My thought is: you just made yourself wetter...so how do you dry off? But I've heard its very refreshing to use the sprayer and the women would rather be wet than dry.

- The first country we were in was a closed country, completely Muslim, no alcohol to be found anywhere (all cocktails are virgin, no bars), and prayer calls happened at all hours of the day and night (which you know all too well if you sleep in a house across from a mosque). But the country is actually made up of 50% foreigners. It wasn't til day 5 that we met a native.

- A popular food choice over there is raw meat. Lamb and beef in particular. If you eat raw meat, it has to be prepared a certain way and the animal had to have been killed within the day of it getting to your plate. Salmonella anyone?


- The first restaurant we went to in country #2 had food options such as: beef tongue, brain, testicles, pancreas, fried fat, eyes, etc. The people that took us there thought it was awesome and wanted to us to try everything (because the team that came before us wanted to do this, so naturally they figured we'd want to also)...however we were not that team. :) Really terrifying way to start a trip...

- In conclusion- I'll leave you with a picture of me and our group's hookah/shisha/narghileh. This is one of my love languages...in strawberry and mint.